For most of the people in my life, Rwanda is a far-away place. It is a place of conflict, of HIV/Aids, of hunger and of economic distress. For the people of Rwanda, of course, it is home. After the genocide in 1994, the people of Rwanda were challenged to find ways to rebuild their lives. With a 70% female population, it was clear that it would take the strength of the women to enact change. With support and encouragement from the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), the women of Rwanda began to take back control of their communities through their traditional art of weaving. Macy’s got involved in 2005 and the Path to Peace project was born. The project is based on the principle of “trade, not aid” and allows Rwandan families earn a living through their work, helping them retain and rebuild a sense of pride and purpose.
I first heard of the Path to Peace project from Christie Crowder of the Blogrollers at Blogalicious ’09. She told me stories of the women and of them working past differences and challenges to better their lives. If I weren’t won over already by their beautiful weaving, their stories moved me.
I want to invite my readers to take a moment to visit the Path to Peace website at Macy’s, read about the project, and consider supporting these women by purchasing a hand-woven basket, textiles or jewelry. Trust me, when you see these baskets in person, you’ll feel like these women have somehow bestowed their kindness on you. They are gorgeous.
Disclosure: I have to share that I received a basket and some other lovely items so I could help promote the Path to Peace Project. It in no way impacts my opinion of the project or the textiles.